The Deputy Minister for agriculture in charge of horticulture, George Oduro, has disclosed that 500,000 farmers would benefit from the Planting for Food and Jobs programme in 2018.
Speaking to the media at Sandema in the Builsa North district of the Upper East Region last Thursday, the deputy minister said the government was happy with the success of the programme last year hence the increment.
According to him, though government targeted 200,000 farmers in 2017, a total of 201,620 farmers were covered. The programme, he said also created both direct and indirect jobs for 745,000 Ghanaians.
He observed the outbreak of the fall army warm nearly disrupted the success of the programme but due to government’s timely intervention, the warms were fought and the looming danger they almost posed was overcome. He mentioned that the warms came unaware last year but since the government was aware they would resurface this year, adequate preparations with a budgetary allocation were being made to fight the warms. Though he failed to state the amount budgeted to fight the warms, the minster explained it factored into the ministry’s budget for 2018.
As he visited farmers in the area, their major concern was about lack of warehouses to store their produce. A maize farmer at Chuchuliga who said he cultivated ten acres of the crop disclosed he harvested 180 bags but had to store it on a veranda of his house because there was no warehouse.
Meanwhile, he was happy he had good yield as compared with the previous years before the introduction of the programme. He was also optimistic he would have gotten more than he had but poor rains coupled with the fall army warms affected him. “I can say that I am a farmer of eight years and I can say that this year, I am better. My yield is somehow better.” The farmer said. He was also able to engage about 674 women and a few men as out growers.
The 2016 best national livestock farmer, Mr. Abiayega Samuel, who also cultivated large scales of maize and other cereals, revealed before the introduction of the planting for food and jobs programmes, he cultivated 76 acres of maize but due to the support from the programme, he did 150 acres in 2017. He further explained that his out growers who previously did five acres of maize were able to ten acres with the support from the programme which sold to them fertilizers at subsidized prices.
Though he has a mini warehouse, he lamented it could not accommodate his produce and called on the government through the minister, to provide him and his colleague farmers in the area with large warehouses to store their produce.
At Akandem Farmers at Sandema, farm manager, Mr. Akanpisi Solomon, said they had 531 acres – 421 for maize and the rest for rice and harvested 641 bags of maize which he explained was low due to poor rains. Meanwhile, their out growers had 871 bags of maize. For the planting for food and jobs programme, because the fertilizer was subsidized, a lot of our farmers were able to access it and it is quite better than we used to.” He said but for the programme, farmers in the area could not afford to apply fertilizers on the rice farms.
Responding to the media on a question about warehouses, Mr. Oduro said the government took over abandoned warehouses from Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to renovate and hand over to the private sector to operate. On ready market, the minister also said 1,033 aggregators have been registered across the country to buy from block farmers and send to the national buffer stock which would then distribute the foodstuffs to the schools for their consumption.
He was optimistic all the challenges the ministry encountered during the implementation of the programme last year would be overcome because it a lot had been learnt.
He, therefore, encouraged all Ghanaians interested in farming to join the programme because it has come to stay.